Demanding More: An Exercise in Holiness

Yakir Englander discusses with the ELI audience about how his Chassidic roots have provided him with a lens with which to view the exercise of holiness–pushing the boundaries of what seems to be possible–even when we don’t know that the outcome is a good one.

Originally from a Hasidic/Ultra-Orthodox community in Israel, Dr. Yakir Englander earned a PhD from Hebrew University in Jerusalem in Jewish philosophy and gender studies. Yakir is one of the leaders of Kids4Peace, a grassroots interfaith youth movement dedicated to ending conflict and inspiring hope in Jerusalem. Yakir is a Fulbright scholar and was a visiting professor of Israel Studies and Religion at Northwestern University and, Rutgers University, Harvard Divinity School. In the last two year, he served as the Executive Director of Kids4Peace International’s innovative new program Dialogue to Action, as well as a scholar at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. In addition, he leads many of the leadership programs at the IAC (Israeli American Council). His work focuses on bringing religiously conservative communities into peace work, creating a Jewish theology of peace, and teaching and practicing peace activism in Jerusalem. In his academic writings he tries to touch the most sensitive subjects of gender, sexuality and religion and to create critique with love. His books are The Male Body in Jewish Lithuanian Ultra-Orthodoxy (Hebrew) and Sexuality and the Body in the New Religious Zionist Discourse (with Professor Avi Sagi) (English and Hebrew). Yakir tries to walk in life and find moments of holiness, particularly through practicing karate, contact improvisation, 5 rhythm, meditation, and taking time to live in the silence of monasteries and nature. Yakir tries to create intimate relationships with people who dedicate their lives to walk with tenderness, vulnerability, and intimacy.

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